CD, Tympanik Audio, 2010
“All Standing Room in the Goodnight Saloon” dropped half a year ago, the latest full-length offering from Autoclav1.1, an artist who has been producing material with some regularity since his 2005 debut on Crunch Pod. In short, the album is much of what we have come to expect from UK musician Tony Young – driving orchestral compositions punctuated by powerful piano chords and pressing guitar, all supported by tight rhythms and wrapped in shimmering strings. In the few short years since really getting noticed with “Love No Longer Lives Here” (2008), Autoclav1.1 has become a staple in new industrial; melodic and electronic, trading foremost in dramatic gestures, it is a benchmark by which similar projects can be measured, and not often found equal.
There has been a trend in recent Autoclav1.1 work to bring in more vocals, something which, on this album at least, can both be lauded and decried. In the former case, the fantastic warped samples in “Saturday’s Steps” lend a new and pleasantly weird attraction to the music, and the guest vocals from Martin Bowes (Attrition) on “The In Road” add an understated, well-blended undercurrent. In the latter case, inviting Claus Larsen (Leaether Strip) to croak and suffer on “Conquer This Perception” simply seems out of place, despite the track’s admittedly old school feel. His vocal style finds better footing with harsher industrial sounds, not the organic musicality inherent in the Autoclav1.1 character, emphasizing the rather routine hazard of distinguished vocal collaborators in this particular genre.
The fact that “All Standing Room…” is much of the same, aside from a sprinkling of noticeably new instrumentation and more widely deployed guitar with, in a few cases, an edgier filter, creates something of a dilemma when it comes to criticism. On the one hand, Young is to be commended for holding fast to such a polished, musical and unique sound, expressive and emotive to the utmost, proving that ‘good EBM’ is still possible. This is again a masterful piece of work, and there is no real need for Autoclav1.1 to do anything radically different, especially considering the irresistible beat structures.
That said, the hope remains that admirable (electronic) artists display an evolution of their style, so to speak, continuing to challenge listeners, eliciting surprise and garnering converts along the way. Autoclav1.1 has advanced with “All Standing Room…” but the shift expresses more subtlety, less overt recognition. Adding vocalists does not equate to taking risks in primarily instrumental music, so let us hope that what is brewing quietly in the incidental aspects of this album can unfurl in new, greater directions in the future.
— Dutton Hauhart